Archive for the ‘Studies & Stats’ Category

Controversy over Calcium Supplementation: What’s A Girl To Do?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

As many as 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and 34 million Americans have a condition called osteopenia (low bone mass), according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. These conditions affect women more frequently than men, due to the fact that as women age, a variety of factors can cause the loss of bone mass, including low estrogen, lack of calcium, vitamin D deficiency, and a sedentary lifestyle. And, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, a woman is also susceptible to bone loss, as her nutrient stores are continually tapped to ensure the growing baby receives proper nourishment.

As a result, it is no wonder women of all ages are constantly reminded to make sure they get enough calcium. After all, calcium is famous for its ability to build bone, and also offers many lesser known health benefits.  In fact, results from research studies conducted over the last several decades suggest that dietary calcium intake may help prevent hypertension, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, in addition to helping to prevent bone loss. So, unless you are absolutely certain that your diet contains at least the recommended amount of calcium (approximately 1,000 mg a day), supplementing your diet with a high-quality calcium supplement is a no-brainer.

But, if you happened to see the recent headlines about calcium supplements and heart disease, you might be a bit confused about the benefits and/or potential risks of calcium supplementation. Earlier this year, the controversial results of a study conducted by German and Swiss researchers were released, creating quite a buzz in the health world and generating some unnecessarily alarming headlines, such as Calcium Pills Linked to Heart Attack Risk.

The study, which followed 24,000 people over 11 years, was performed to evaluate the impact of calcium intake (from food and supplements) on cardiovascular disease risk. Participants were asked to report food and supplement intake from memory, using food frequency questionnaires given at specific intervals throughout the course of the study. Once all of the data was analyzed, the researches came out with some controversial conclusions. Contrary to the results of previous research suggesting that higher calcium intake protects against the development of cardiovascular disease, the German and Swiss researchers concluded that increasing calcium intake from diet does not provide significant cardiovascular benefits and calcium supplements might actually increase the risk of heart attack. The researchers went on to theorize that the reason calcium supplements might pose a threat to cardiovascular health is that calcium supplements might cause a spike in blood calcium levels, which may ultimately lead to calcium attaching itself to plaque in the walls of the arteries, leading to hardening of the arteries, a key risk factor for heart attack.

Unfortunately, these controversial results were widely disseminated and may have caused consumers some unnecessary concern about any potential risks associated with supplementing with calcium. But now that the dust has settled a bit, many health experts are pointing to serious problems with the design of this study and are raising doubt about the reliability of the conclusions that were drawn. One thing is certain: any time participants are required to self-report food and supplement intake based on memory, the results are likely to be suspect. And, even assuming that the participants reported their food intake with absolute accuracy (again, highly doubtful), it is important to put the results into the proper perspective. Only 850 of the 24,000 participants reported the use of any type of calcium supplement and dosages were not well-quantified. Among this small group of calcium users, only 40 participants had a heart attack, which equates to fewer than 4 heart attacks per year. Also, national surveys conducted in the United States suggest that nearly 11% of the population takes calcium supplements. In this study, less than 4% of the study participants used calcium supplements, suggesting that calcium use was significantly underreported in this study. The researchers themselves concede that, “It is possible that the unreported calcium supplementation would affect the accuracy of our results if identified calcium supplement users had a different cardiovascular risk profile than unidentified calcium supplement users.” (Heart 2012; 98:920-925)

The moral of this story seems to be that headlines rarely tell the whole story. So, what is a girl to do about calcium supplementation? When all is said and done, the weight of the scientific evidence clearly favors ensuring sufficient calcium intake from a combination of food and supplements, especially during specific life stages, including pregnancy and lactation. If you are currently trying-to-conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding, here are five important things to keep in mind about your calcium intake:

1.     Pregnancy and breastfeeding can deplete your stores of nutrients. Adequate intake of calcium is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, unique times in a woman’s life when her own nutritional stores are constantly tapped to ensure that her growing child is properly nourished. Taking a high-quality calcium supplement before, during and after pregnancy ensures that you maintain adequate stores of this important nutrient.

2.     Bone health is just one of the reasons that calcium supplementation is important for pregnant women. Research indicates that calcium plays a role in preventing preeclampsia, a serious condition of pregnancy which causes high blood pressure and fluid retention. Ensuring optimal intake of calcium before and during pregnancy can go a long way in helping to prevent pregnancy complications, like preeclampsia.

3.     Experts recommend taking no more than 500 milligrams of supplemental calcium at one time. By limiting the supplemental dose to 500 mg, you can minimize the potential “spike” in blood calcium levels that the German and Swiss researchers theorized about, reducing any chance that the calcium will end up in your arteries where it doesn’t belong.

4.     Calcium does not work alone. To work effectively, calcium needs both magnesium and Vitamin D:  magnesium helps transport calcium into the bones and vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium.  Be sure to choose a calcium supplement that also contains magnesium and vitamin D to obtain maximum support.

5.     Consider the form of calcium in your supplement. Supplemental calcium comes in a variety of forms. While calcium carbonate is the most common supplemental form, calcium citrate is thought have better absorption rates. Choose a supplement that contains a combination of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, and be sure to take your calcium supplement with food.

6.     Include calcium-rich foods in your diet. The healthiest choice is always to obtain vitamins and minerals from a variety of food sources, and to supplement when necessary. If you take a supplement containing 500 mg of calcium, you still need another 500 mg from food to meet the recommended daily amount of 1,000 mg. Low-fat dairy products (milk and yogurt) and green-leafy vegetables are excellent sources of calcium.

Fairhaven Health recently introduced the newest addition to our Pregnancy Plus line of products: PregnancyPlus Cal – Mag. This product was formulated by Dr. Amos Grunebaum, leading fertility expert and Director of Obstetrics and Chief of Labor and Delivery at one of the nation’s top university medical centers, to provide the optimal supplemental dose of calcium and magnesium. It contains a combination of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, and vitamin D, to ensure optimal absorption of calcium.  For more information about PregnancyPlus Cal-Mag, see www.pregnancy-plus.com.

The Benefits of Vitex and Other Herbs on Fertility

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

The benefits of herbal supplementation to enhance fertility are unfortunately often overlooked. One of the most recognized and recommended herbs used in fertility enhancement is Chasteberry, or Vitex (vitex agnus-castus). Vitex is a fertility-promoting herb that has been used as far back as ancient Greece. Vitex was and still is recognized for its medicinal properties, which are used for a number of ailments. For centuries, women have used vitex to increase their odds of conceiving a baby, as well as to treat symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance and PMS.

Recently, Vitex has been shown in several clinical studies to help stimulate and stabilize the reproductive hormones involved in ovulation, cycle balance, and menstrual vitex1regularity. These studies also document a statistically-significant increase in fertility among women using vitex, with more pregnancies than in control groups using a placebo. Vitex is an important ingredient in both FertilAid and FertiliTea which contain a number of other fertility enhancing and nutritive herbs such as Red Raspberry Leaf, Green Tea, Ladies Mantle and Nettle Leaf.

Couples who are trying to conceive are now, more than ever, turning to more natural ways of addressing infertility. Scientifically validated ingredients found in fertility supplements may lead to increased conception rates and provide a healthful alternative to conventional treatments such as prescription drugs or other invasive treatment options.

A Few Ovulation Myths Uncovered

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from one of your ovaries and travels through the fallopian tubes to await fertilization. On average, the egg will live approximately 12-24 hours awaiting fertilization from sperm. If conception doesn’t occur, the unfertilized egg, uterine lining, and additional blood will be shed during menstruation. If conception does occur, the egg will implant in the uterine wall within about 6-12 days.

Understanding ovulation is very important if you are trying to conceive. Here are a few common myths and misconceptions.

A Woman Can Get Pregnant Only One Day During Her Cycle. It is true that ovulation (meaning the dropping of one or more eggs) generally only occurs on one day of the cycle, but a woman can actually get pregnant from having had intercourse 4-5 days before ovulation occurs. The reason for this is that sperm can live for up to 5 days in a healthy reproductive tract.

A Normal Menstrual Cycle is 28 Days, and Ovulation OccuEggs-Basketrs on Day 14 of the Cycle. The reality is that every woman’s cycle is different, and generally ranges from 24-36 days. Ovulation days can also depend on the woman and can occur many days before or after the 14th day of her cycle. You will not necessarily be fertile on the 14th day of your cycle. Fertility Charting, and the use of ovulation microscopes and other predictor devices are recommended to test for your window of fertility.

Women Can Ovulate More Than once During Her Cycle. This is not true. Ovulation only occurs once during the cycle of a healthy woman. It is true that more than one egg may be released during ovulation, but this almost always occurs within 24 hours of each other.

Women Ovulate on the Same Day Each Month. While most women ovulate towards the middle of their cycle, the actual day can change month to month, even in women with regular cycles. This is one reason that tracking for ovulation is so important!

What is a Chemical Pregnancy?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Have you ever received a faint positive on a pregnancy test… only to be later told by your doctor that you’re not, in fact, pregnant?

What you may have experienced is known as a “chemical pregnancy”, a clinical term used to describe what is essentially a very early miscarriage. In a chemical pregnancy, it is thought that an egg is fertilized but fails to implant. It is believed that chemical pregnancies occur quite frequently (around 50% of first pregnancies end in miscarriage very early on in the pregnancy). They often go unnoticed, however, unless the woman is actively testing for pregnancy with early detection pregnancy tests prior to her expected period.

More readily available today, early detection pregnancy tests can predict pregnancy days before a missed period. This style of test is designed for couples who want to know of their pregnancy as early as possible. Unlike older style tests that are to be used after a missed period, early detection tests have the ability to detect a chemical pregnancy.

Doctors are unsure why chemical pregnancies occur, but they are thought to be similar to a miscarriage in that there may have been chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus. Chemical pregnancies are not a result of anything that you have done, nor can you prevent them.

Many women suffer the emotional affects similar to those of a miscarriage; it is OK to feel these emotions and feelings of loss. While you will most likely not experience reoccurring chemical pregnancies, if you do, please see your doctor to discuss possible causes and solutions.

What is Pre-Seed Sperm Friendly Lubricant?

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Hi all! A lot of people have been asking me about Pre-Seed- the sperm friendly lubricant. I poked around for information, and even got a letter from the inventor of Pre-Seed with a lot of information….

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

early-pregnancy-tests_2073_6538990
* Does not harm sperm, or interfere with fertilization & embryo development as shown in presentations at major medical meetings
* Numerous US and International Patents
* Contains the plant sugar, arabinogalactan, for antioxidant support of sperm
* Pre-Seed is applied internally, because it has the same pH, ion concentration and viscosity (consistency) as fertile cervical mucus.
* Clinical tests support Pre-Seed’s benefit in peer-reviewed published studies
* Used in and recommended by hundreds of fertility and women’s health clinics -
* Read our many inspiring Users’ Stories from people just like you
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What are Early Detection Pregnancy Tests?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Many store-bought pregnancy tests recommend waiting to test for pregnancy until after a missed period. In contrast, early-detection pregnancy tests (often used in fertility clinics) may detect pregnancy as early as just six to eight days after conception!

Early pregnancy tests can come in the form of a test strip (like the ones clinics use to dip in a cup of collected urine) or a midstream test (the same style you would find at a drug store where you urinate directly on the test stick). Both test types are capable of detecting human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG (a hormone present in women’s urine during pregnancy) at very low levels (i.e. ~20 mIU/ml/hCG). This means that instead of waiting for a missed period to test for pregnancy, you can begin testing about a week before your missed period.

Many women don’t realize that the same pregnancy tests found in your neighborhood drugstore are available to purchase online for a fraction of the price. A store we recommended is early-pregnancy-tests.com. They have an excellent reputation, offer free shipping, and they also supply fertility clinics and hospitals around the country.

Infertility- It’s Not Just For The Ladies!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

In the past, when a couple had difficulties getting pregnant, the assumption was that the woman was ‘barren,’ or somehow responsible for the couple’s infertility. We now know, however, that a male factor plays a role in almost one half the cases.

Some Causes of Male Infertilitybaby-1

  • Low sperm count
  • Slow sperm movement (motility)
  • Abnormal shape and size of sperm (morphology)
  • Obstructive tubal blockages
  • Testicular injury or disease
  • Varicocele (a dilation of the testicular veins in the spermatic cord that leads from the testicles to the abdomen)
  • Genetic disorders
  • Drug use
  • Environmental toxins and radiation

The most common reason for infertility in men is the inability to produce adequate numbers of healthy sperm. Azoospermia refers to no sperm being produced while oligospermia is when few sperm are produced. Infertility in men may also be caused by impotence or disorders affecting ejaculation, such as inhibited ejaculation and retrograde ejaculation (when ejaculate is forced backward into the bladder). It may also be caused by failure of the testes to descend into the scrotum, which inhibits the production of sperm.

There are many other factors of male fertility issues that might explain low sperm count, slow sperm mobility and abnormal sperm shape. Some of which include- lifestyle, genetics, and physiology.

If You are a Man Trying to Conceive…

  • Stop smoking. Both cigarettes and marijuana. Smoking has been directly linked to low sperm count. Long-term use of marijuana can also result in low sperm count and abnormal development of sperm.
  • Drink less or no alcohol. Alcohol can reduce the production of sperm.
  • Be Weight Conscious. Both overweight and underweight men can develop fertility problems. Too much weight can cause hormonal disturbances. Too little weight can cause decreased sperm count and functionality.
  • Keep Cool and Comfortable. Heat is detrimental to sperm. Keep clothing loose and wear boxers. You should also avoid hot tubs and steam rooms.
  • Have Regular Sex. Recent studies show that the chances of conceiving go up if you’re having sex with regularity.
  • Avoid Chemicals and Toxins. Landscapers, contractors, manufacturing workers, and men who have regular contact with environmental toxins or poisons (pesticides, insecticides, lead, radiation, or heavy metals) are all at risk of infertility.
  • Consider Proper Supplementation. Ensure optimal fertility by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrients and vitamins.

For more information about male fertility, visit the site of clinically proven FertilAid.

The Skinny on Fertility and Exercise

Friday, September 25th, 2009

298x232-fitness_woman_cycling-298x232_fitness_woman_cyclingFor many of us, our modern lifestyle tends to demand very little of us physically. Because of this, we tend to lead fairly sedentary lives. It is important to remember that while it may not be demanded of us at work or home, exercise is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle. When exercise is pursued in healthy moderation, it can also help to increase fertility! Anything you do to increase your health, increases your chances of conceiving a baby!

How Does Being Overweight Affect Fertility?

Being overweight or obese is often associated with fertility problems. In fact, 12% of infertility cases are due to weight issues. One common weight related infertility diagnosis is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Women who are overweight or obese have more fat cells in their bodies. This fat increases the amount of estrogen. Because 30% of estrogen comes from fat cells, women with more fat produce more estrogen. More estrogen can negatively influence ovulation, menstruation, and ultimately, conception. Women who are overweight also tend to be more resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance can force a woman’s body to produce excess levels of insulin, which inhibits ovulation.

The Benefits of Exercise

Getting a healthy amount of exercise not only lowers fat cells, but it also can help lower levels of stress. Stress has been found to inhibit fertility, and should be avoided, or at least minimized by those trying to conceive. Exercise releases endorphins, which encourages your body to better deal with pain and stress. Activities, such as yoga can be a great stress reliever and have been connected to optimal fertility by specialists world-over.

Additionally, exercise can help both women and men achieve good sleep patterns. Lack of proper sleep has been shown to negatively affect fertility, making sleep a facet of good health that should be addressed by those trying to conceive. As well as minimizing stress and increasing positive sleep patterns, exercise also increases blood flow to all areas of the body, including reproductive organs.

Too Much Exercise Can Have Negative Affects on Fertility.

Many women are unaware of the fact that too much and/or excessive exercise hurts their chances of conceiving a child. Excessive and extreme exercise which causes weight loss and low levels of body fat can cause ovulation to cease. The reason for this is that not enough nutrients in a woman’s body, i.e. too little fat, means that there are not enough nutrients to nourish a fetus. The body senses this and stops ovulation from occurring, making it impossible to get pregnant.

If you would like more information about health and diet while trying to conceive, click Here and/or speak with your doctor about an exercise regiment and proper diet plan for optimal fertility. Get out, get fit, and get pregnant!

Smokers Less Likely to Conceive

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking adversely affects women and men who are trying to conceive. Specialists recommend a number of things you can do to increase your chances of conception, such as lowering the intake of alcohol and caffeine, implementing an exercise regiment, and positive changes in diet, including proper supplementation. Quitting smoking is a recommended change that is extremely important to ensure good health, and to optimize your chances of getting pregnant.

Here are the Facts:smoking_591

  • Women who smoke are 60 percent more likely than nonsmokers to be infertile.
  • About 25% of women of reproductive age smoke, and nearly a third of them continue to do so during pregnancy.
  • Menopause occurs one to four years earlier in smoking women than non-smoking women.
  • Nicotine has a disruptive effect on egg maturation, ovulation rates, and fertilization rates
  • Smoking is associated with increased spontaneous miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies.
  • Chemicals in tobacco can alter the cervical fluid, making it toxic to sperm.
  • Studies show that smokers require nearly two times as many in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts as nonsmokers.
  • Women who smoke have an increased risk of cervical cancer, which may require surgery that involves removal of the uterus and sometimes ovaries, which leaves the women permanently infertile.

It is not just women who should stop smoking while trying to conceive...

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What are the Noticeable Symptoms of PCOS?

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Polycyctic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), is a rather complicated syndrome that, to some degree or another, affects about one in ten childbearing age women, some of whom are experiencing infertility as a result.

PCOS symptoms tend to be experienced gradually, usually in the early teens, after the first menstrual period. The first symptom is generally weight gain. Hormonal changes that lead to this weight gain include the release of androgens which are hormones that cause the typical male physical characteristics. These changes in hormones spur on symptoms such as:

  • Few or no menstrual periods
  • Hair loss
  • Hirsutism: Increased hair growth in strange places such as back, chest, face, fingers and toes
  • Anovulation: The inability to ovulate or release a mature egg from the ovary each month
  • Obesity
  • Acne
  • Skin Tags: Excess flaps of skin generally found around the armpit or groin
  • Acanthosis Nigricans: Areas of thick, darker skin found behind the neck, thighs or vulva
  • Sleep Apnea or snoring
  • Depression
  • Male-pattern baldness or hair thinning/loss
  • Lower abdomen pain

PCOS Sufferers have many other symptoms and health problems that are not noticeable without doctor consultation. These symptoms can be detected by a doctor during diagnosis. They include, but are not limited to: Insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, ovarian cycts, high blood pressure, and infertility.

For trying-to-conceive women, treatments of PCOS include fertility medications: Clomiphene (pills) and Gonadotropins (shots) can be used to stimulate the ovary to ovulate. Natural fertility supplements, such as FertilAid for Women, are popular with PCOS sufferers as well. If you would like more information about PCOS and ways to cope, see a fertility specialist or doctor. You may also wish to start a diet and exercise program to help lessen or cease your symptoms and inability to conceive.

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